September 18, 2015
More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Of them, 400,000 also have Down syndrome. Both groups have similar looking brains with higher levels of the protein beta amyloid. In fact, patients with Down syndrome develop the abnormal protein at twice the rate. Results of a pilot study, published in the September issue of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, confirms the pathogenic role of beta amyloid in dementia as seen in both AD and Down syndrome.
"People with Down syndrome represent the world's largest population of predetermined Alzheimer's disease. By studying these individuals, we can develop insights into how Alzheimer's disease naturally progresses and potential drug targets," said principal investigator Michael Rafii, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences and interim co-director of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) at UC San Diego.